In geopolitical relationships, China and the Israelis have not been on the same side. China is one of Iran’s biggest supporters, and Iran’s leader has stated he wants to “wipe Israel off the map.” China has also traditionally had a knee-jerk support for the Palestinians in whatever conflicts have developed between them and the Israelis. Given these facts, some recent developments have been on the surprising side.
In spite of their competitive past relationships, Israel and China have taken some very interesting steps toward cooperative efforts (see first link). The Israelis recently hosted a good-will visit by three Chinese warships in Israeli ports and the Defense Chiefs of each nation have exchanged visits to the other’s home country. These are symbolic gestures, but a possible effort toward much stronger cooperation may be in the offing. China and the Israelis are considering a new joint effort: the construction of a major rail line from two Israeli port cities to the Gulf of Aqaba and, perhaps, into Jordan as well. China would, presumably, contribute much of the financing for this project. This rail line would allow China and other nations to have an alternate means of shipping containerized goods between Asia and Europe rather than via Egypt’s Suez Canal. The recent chaotic conditions in Egypt may be driving the urgency of this project. As long as the Moslem Brotherhood is controlling Egypt’s government, there is a risk of either civil unrest or even civil war in Egypt. This places the Suez Canal itself in jeopardy. China needs reliable transportation routes to and from all its customers, and the Israelis offer a stable domestic reality that Egypt can no longer reliably promise to anyone for the foreseeable future.
So, on one hand, this deal (if it comes to pass) makes good business sense for both China and Israel. China would have a reliable route for its goods in transit and Israel would have domestic jobs and a new and valuable presence in international commerce. It is a “win-win” situation for both sides, economically.
However, I think China has a second agenda. Seeing that the USA’s Obama administration has alienated the Israelis and is not seen as a reliable partner by the Israelis, China, I think, senses the chance to drive a wedge further between the Israelis and the USA. China is a key member of the Gog-Magog alliance prophesied by Ezekiel 38-39 to come into existence in the latter days of our age. Any action which drives additional wedges between the USA and its historic allies is a worthwhile Chinese foreign policy goal. If China funds this project, it will also gain a measure of control over who is allowed to use this alternate shipping route.
The second link is, I believe, written from a leftist perspective which is not friendly to the Israelis, but it has some points worth considering. It opines that although the Obama administration has made publicly-supportive statements regarding the Israelis and their security needs, it may be taking an entirely different position behind the scenes. Indeed, it asserts that “international isolation” for the Israelis may be the actual policy goal of the Obama administration. If such a policy openly develops, as the link asserts might happen, then the Israelis will need to look for allies other than the USA. As the most internally-stable and militarily-powerful nation in the Mideast and occupying strategically-vital real estate at the crossroads of three continents, the Israelis would make a valuable ally for anyone. Greece is an ally to Israel now, and India has appeared in recent times to be moving in the direction of a strategic alliance with the Israelis. An open alliance between Israel and India would be of great benefit to both nations. It would link Israel’s nuclear arsenal and technological advantages with India’s manpower and a nuclear arsenal of its own.
Given the uncertainties of the current Mideast situation, China may be starting to hedge its bets in the region. Maybe China now has a strong interest in getting a toehold in Israel as well. A Chinese-funded, new, major rail line In Israel would be a major step in that direction.